Newton didn’t need an apple to discover the Law of Universal Gravity. It is illustrated nowhere more beautifully than in the music industry: The more rapidly a movement rises the harsher the backlash.

Emerging from the grunge movement, comparisons with bands that defined the genre were inevitable. Bush, however, was cursed with more than its fair share of naysayers that slammed the band as another shameless Nirvana knockoff. Bush’s overnight success with its six-time platinum debut, Sixteen Stone, only fueled the criticism. The “death of grunge” left the band’s future uncertain.

Bush’s past two albums, Razorblade Suitcase and The Science of Things, experimented with electronic sounds mixed into the usual grunge recipe. The result, at best, was mediocre. Bush’s latest release, Golden State, marks the band’s return to its more hard-edged roots.

With the tracks “My Engine Is With You” and “Reasons,” Bush infuses heavy punk sounds in both its lyrical approach and musical attack – a clear reference to the early foundations of grunge.

Golden State is no groundbreaker, nor is it a stagnant replication of past works. There is a distinct evolution in vocalist Gavin Rossdale’s abilities as a songwriter, if not in his diversity as a singer.

The album effectively balances easy-listening hard rock tracks with power ballads. And, at times, combines the two. Perhaps the most interesting track, “Headful of Ghosts,” begins with aggressive guitar riffs before plunging into the chorus with whispering dynamics.

It remains to be seen what place the “post-grunge” bands can grasp onto in this world of sub-talented nu-metal. But to dismiss this album for sounding too Bush-like is pure laziness.

[Erin James]